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Natural Resources & Agriculture

Understanding and addressing the many varied issues within the area of resources is becoming more important as matters such as climate change, urban expansion and the exploitation of increasingly scarce resources can have a serious impact on the economy and our level of wealth.

The area of natural resources and the environment is broad. Many of the diverse and challenging issues that the sector covers, such as water buybacks, land use zoning, food security, the viability of regional communities and resource ownership are highly emotive for clients and stakeholders. Often this emotion can get in the way of effective policy and management of natural resources and the environment. This results in barriers to change and adjustment. To manage this, we get to the heart of problems and apply economic frameworks in a rational, integrated and practical manner.

Government policies, particularly relating to the access and use of resources, play a key role in protecting environmental values in the long term, while enabling and promoting economic productivity and investment. For companies, balancing the risk and reward in investing and operating in the commodities sector is critical to their success.

We advise policy makers and other parties on a broad range of environmental and resource problems. This provides us with a unique understanding of the institutional arrangements governing natural resource and environmental management across Australia. We form project teams drawing on the diverse experience of our consultants and our wide network of technical specialists.

Specific areas where we work regularly with clients include:

Environmental policy

By weighing up costs and benefits, we help clients create policies that will achieve the right balance.

Economics is about using scarce resources efficiently. We draw on sound economic principles to design effective policies which can range from investments, regulatory frameworks, market-based solutions, taxation or subsidy measures, to voluntary measures and behaviour change. We also review or evaluate existing policy.

To help decision-makers, we assess the costs and benefits that a policy or intervention is likely to deliver over its lifetime. We also advise on ‘what works’ by looking at policies or interventions already in place to assess their impacts and how those impacts came about. As part of our evaluations we use various techniques to assess the benefits and costs compared to what might happen without the policy.

Questions we have tackled include:

  • how should governments conserve biodiversity on private land?
  • what do global food security concerns mean for agricultural policy in Australia?
  • how should governments ensure optimal private and public adaptation responses to climate change?
  • how should environmental water allocations be managed?
  • what is the intellectual basis of environmental indices, such as virtual water, and what should be their role in regard to consumption and policy decisions?

Managing natural resources and agriculture

Occasional spikes in food prices due to specific events demonstrate the importance of productive agricultural sectors, and the opportunities for countries such as Australia with a competitive advantage in that sector. Natural resource management, including biosecurity, and agricultural policy will help determine Australia’s role in future global food markets.

Frontier Economics has experience applying economic principles across a range of problems in areas as diverse as R&D program evaluations, biosecurity program evaluations (locusts and equine influenza), beef industry mergers, resource rent policies, and economic consequences of water carryover decisions. A feature of these projects has been our ability to use innovative approaches, adapt available data and collaborate with industry experts to populate conventional economic assessment frameworks.

Our experience in this area includes trade policy analysis, agricultural commodity market analysis, the analysis of the institutional arrangements for provision of rural research and development, and biosecurity. We have also assisted clients in the reform of rural land use planning policies and the development of a soil health policy framework.

Our expertise in Natural Resources & Agriculture

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